Aug 122010

In the promotional art, the Four stride toward the watcher with pantherine presence. They appear to have marched out of some portal in the time/space continuum, which crackles with cosmic energy behind them. Their dress is what I would call Goth-Catholic School-Girl; their progress seems as invincible as that of the Chariot in the Tarot. It is almost as if they are issuing a prophecy: Prepare! We are the Wicca Generation and we are coming-

The time is 1996, and these are the young women of The Craft.  

The Craft (Wicca’s “Coming Out” movie; the first movie- not counting brief sections of Oliver Stone’s 1991 The Doors- to feature Wicca in its plot) seems prescient now in ways that were not readily apparent at the time. The Mean Girl Syndrome, which features so heavily in Rochelle’s story-line, had not yet entered the public consciousness; now of course we regard such bullying, harassing, combative behavior a serious social issue. (The Craft’s solution to smug, self-satisfied Mean White Girls? Use Wicca to make that Bitch’s pretty blonde hair fall out- shows her.)

Date-rape is another significant social issue to be found in the film, as is the danger that a young woman can find herself in, from a hormonally-charged, romantically obsessed teen-aged male. Sarah (played by Robin Tunney) deals with the latter with a well-aimed (and seriously hard) kick to Skeet Ulrich’s groin; twice in the film, she will use the strength of her legs to defend herself physically (in the climatic battle with Nancy, she will execute a flawless backwards kick off the floor, slamming her legs into Nancy’s stomach; then she will telekinetically bash Nancy with a dresser).

Another way that The Craft was a little ahead of its time- and I am really serious here, so please everybody listen to me- is its demonstration of the ferocious and savage tendency of some Practitioners of the Craft to turn upon one another. What is the set-up for the final battle between Good (Sarah) and Evil (Nancy) in the movie? The Four are roaring around town in Nancy’s new car; Nancy is drunk with her new-found occult powers (these include Magickally making the traffic lights change), but sober-minded Sarah is having deep misgivings.

“Maybe we should take a break from it for awhile- slow it down. I mean, people are dead! Yes we’re getting what we want now; but what if it comes back to us threefold?”

This earns her Nancy’s taunting: “Want to leave the Circle, Sarah? SCARED, Sarah!?” And so the original Three determine that they no longer require ”a Fourth,” and initiate a campaign of psychological and supernatural torment upon Sarah (here is the famous Craft scene where Sarah is sleeping in bed; sleeping in bed; sleeping in bed- suddenly her window flies open and the three teen-aged Witches come sailing through the air into her room, to hover over her with sadistic glee: Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!).

“If you leave the Circle- you might as well leave the school- town- the planet.” “In the Old Days- if a Witch betrayed her coven- they’d kill her.”

This sounds so familiar to us, why? And we all know what I’m talking about, so let’s don’t pretend we don’t- some Wiccans and some Neo-Pagans have this psychotic tendency to seriously turn on one another (can anybody say, Witch-War here?), and the more ego that they have going on, and (often) the more “occult wisdom” that they perceive themselves to possess- the more justified they tend to feel in doing so.

Needless to say, it is an excessively tedious and annoying trait. Watching The Craft anew, I was struck by how much the latter part of the film is basically a sustained Flame-Fight between Sarah and the Other Three; I am sure we can all agree that such childish behavior (it is one thing to find this sort of thing in teen-agers; the kicker is when adults cannot transcend such immaturity) is one of the more irritating aspects of modern Neo-Paganism.

An aspect of the movie about which I had forgotten was the degree to which it presents Wicca (Witchcraft) as a rebellion against Christianity. The kids all go to Catholic school together, where the nuns are strict and Mass obligatory. In the shot that introduces Sarah to the Other Three, they are sitting in a pack of sullen adolescent anger at the System- with their backs literally turned to a mural of the Blessed Virgin. “See them? They’re the Bitches of Eastwick- stay away from them. They’re- they’re Witches,” Skeet Ulrich warns Robin Tunney.

I think The Craft’s use of Christianity is a little superficial- Sarah gasps! There’s a snake (like in the Garden, the Tempter of Adam and Eve) at the entrance to her new home! A crazed madman spots Sarah in the street. “Hey- Hey! I got to tell you something! I saw you in a dream- you were dead! Listen to me! I’m in touch with The Man!” Running away from the loony, Sarah knocks into a priest. She backs up, and continues running, as the priest calls after her: “Come back to Jesus, child!”

Still and all- so pervasive is the Doctrine of the Dominant Christian Culture, who among us can be unaware that our Paganism- as Christian Theology continues to remind us- represents a dangerous step backwards, in terms of the Salvation of our (Christian) souls.

Obviously I don’t really believe this myself, but (like many other Neo-Pagans, I suspect) there was a time when the “Pagan-ness” of Paganism caused some reflection for me, what with the idolizing of the Graven Images and having other Gods, and what not. Since the Fourth Century, Pagan Witchcraft and Christianity have been in conflict; The Craft’s depiction of Wicca as a turn from Christianity, to an embrace of Pagan Witchery- mirrors in minor our own movement, an unprecedented movement: a return to the Pagan.

The Craft has acquired significance in the fifteen years since its release, as have Charmed, Practical Magic, and Buffy the Vampire-Slayer, for comprising part of the Pop-Culture/ Witch-Culture with which today’s young Wiccans and Pagans have grown up. (I was amused to see that a very talented young lady has an essay up on Witchvox this week, titled “I Love The Craft, Charmed, and Practical Magic- Wait, I’m a Fluffy Bunny?”) The Teen-Witch phenomenon appears to be growing (well, that’s my impression, at any rate- I don’t actually know any teen-agers myself); nonetheless, so many Pagan kids are currently coming of age, with so many more growing up, while Neo-Paganism and the Craft continue to expand: ten years from now, Paganism and Wicca are going to be much, much more prevalent in social culture, I think, simply because there will be so many more young adults practicing. To judge from the number of “Music Video” adaptations of The Craft on YouTube, it has become something of a Generational Cult Classic.  

Pagan youth of today as likely as not have turned to The Craft time and again, to find role-models in its young heroines; to absorb lessons in Wicca and Magick from its unfolding; to lose themselves in the exquisite pleasure of a Magickal Adventure. For the Wicca Generation coming- The Craft has become part of their Wiccan subconscious.  

It occupies a unique position in Wiccan Film for being Wicca’s “Camp Classic” (in similar manner, the Nicolas Cage remake of The Wicker Man counts as Neo-Paganism’s “Camp Classic”).

How to define “Camp?” “Camp” is (basically) Gay Guy humor- think of something. If you can imagine a Gay Guy finding that thing funny- it’s Camp. My favorite definition of Camp comes from John Waters (in The Simpsons episode where Homer fears that Bart might be Gay): “Camp is the tragically ludicrous- the ludicrously tragic.” Camp is a bunch of Gay Guys screening Mommie Dearest and shouting out in unison with Faye Dunaway: “Tina! Get me the axe!”; “NO- Wire- Hangers- EVER!”; and the immortal classic: “Don’t FUCK with me, FELLAS! This ain’t my FIRST TIME at the RODEO!”  

A little too ridiculous and over-the-top to take really seriously, The Craft floats along the level of Camp, with lines like: ”Take my scars, Manon- take my scars!”; “We ARE the weirdos, mister!”; and “SCARED, Sarah!?”- among the Campier. 

The movie definitely benefits from its two stars. As Sarah, Robin Tunney has a gravity and a thoughtfulness that anchors the film and gives her character the weight of ethical conflict.

The scene-stealing role, however, is that of psycho Nancy- and does Fairuza Balk ever steal her scenes! She is the type of actress for whom adjectives like “raw” become applicable; she arrests you with Nancy’s seething, clenched hostility from the get-go. At the end, the commitment with which she hurls herself into “Demented Nancy” is hard-core. Ms. Balk is deliciously terrifying as the Ethically Amoral Witch, forcing that cad Skeet Ulrich out a window by flinging her head from side to side with mad fury: “You- treat- women- like- WHORES! You- don’t – EVEN- deserve to- EXIST!” and assailing poor, sweet Sarah with insane delight: “You are- so- PATHETIC!” Not many actresses could have writhed on the floor with such conviction, while the best CGI-effects of the time transformed their hair and fingers into snakes. (Christina Ricci comes to mind, but she is such a cerebral, and- when she wishes to be, creepy- and so mind-twisty, an actress, that her Nancy would have been very different. Ms. Balk can give the impression of a feral canine; she can make you afraid that she might try to eat your skin off.)

I think that the deal when they went to make The Craft was this: they wanted to make a teen-oriented “Witch-Spook” flick, and they bumped up against Wicca.

Since the time of the Anglo-Saxons, anxiety and fear over Bad Witchcraft (curses, hexes, such like) has expressed itself in stories and tales dealing therewith. Likewise, fascination with, and fear of, the Spookier Aspects of Witchcraft eternally captivate the mind (Shakespeare’s Macbeth, anyone?)

Therefore- one can’t really argue that filmed stories concerning Spook-Witches (“bad” Witches) are “wrong,” or inappropriate, and one notes the presence of two positive, “good” Witch types (Sarah and Lirio, the occult-shop owner).

The thing is- by 1996, Wicca (and Neo-Paganism) had become established enough that the producers of The Craft (I guess) felt that they had to address it. Having the Witchcraft in the film appear authentic was apparently of concern to them (they engaged a Wiccan High Priestess as a consultant). However- in order to serve their script, they skewed Wicca in odd ways periodically- especially in a bizarre choice of Wiccan Deity.

The result is, in many ways, a faithful depiction of Wicca on the screen- and the first such really full-on depiction. It remains (as far as I know) the most prolonged film presentation of Wicca; has Wicca ever received such sustained screen time since? (Perhaps in Charmed or Buffy; confession: I never watched those shows.)

In some ways, though, The Craft veers off into a form of Hollywood Wicca that is exclusively its own- and then basically abandons Wicca about half-way through, in order to focus on a special effects-driven, Gothic tale of Horror and Witchcraft.

I love the beginning: the camera finds a crystal ball beside an antique bottle of elixir; a candle is lit.

The camera shifts to an overhead shot; we see a Pentacle on the Altar, surrounded by talismans and charms, with objects shifted into place. There is a murmuring in the background. Then the shot is frontal, and we see three young women standing in a Circle. “Now is the Time; Now is the Hour. Now is the Time; Now is our Power.” Fairuza Balk suddenly lifts her eyes to challenge the camera- and we are zooming over a desert, while the “The Craft” appears on the screen.     

The three Teen Witches are searching for their “Fourth”: “Earth, Air, Fire, and Water- we need someone to Call in the Quarters, so we can make the Circle!” Neve Campbell has consulted her Almanac: “Today is the arrival of something new- bringing a new balance.” Later (in French class), she will observe That New Girl Sarah telekinetically suspend a pencil over her desk. “I think she’s the Fourth; I think she’s the Fourth!”

The Three approach Sarah, and invite her to hang with them; they take her to a special store which they frequent. (In a nice touch, along the way, they pass a wall-mural of an African Goddess- Yemaya, maybe, or possibly Oshun? I’m not sure.) There is a sense of Sarah’s awe and wonder, as she enters the first occult shop that she has ever visited in her life, and stares about her with amazement. We see candles and books; we hear strange, soft music. A tall, regal woman, who looks like Hera or Isis, inscribes a Pentacle over a candle, drawing The Power down into it with a flourish of her hands. Sarah asks, “You guys are really into all this?”

Bonnie (Neve Campbell) shows Sarah a book; “you put spells into it, and don’t let anyone else see!” Sarah’s ethical code is established when she refuses to help Bonnie shop-lift (shop-lifting from an occult store; talk about your threefold bad-return). The regal store-owner (Lirio, played with authority by Assumpta Serna) asks Sarah if she knows how to use the candles which Sarah is preparing to purchase. “Uh, you light the wick?,” Sarah goes.  

Lirio laughs, and offers Sarah a book (titled “The Craft”): “Read this- it explains everything.” She continues, looking at Sarah in a close way: “If you are a Natural Witch, the Power comes from within.”

The quartet retire to a secret hide-out, filled with excitement: “North, South, East, West- We can make things happen! Maybe now he’ll listen to us!”

When Sarah asks who exactly “he” is, Rochelle takes a deep breath and explains. “Manon.”

Sarah asks, “Is that like God?” and Nancy replies: “Manon is older than God; Man invented God.”

Sarah is confused; “You guys worship the Devil or something?” So Nancy has another go at describing Manon. “It’s God and the Devil and it’s everything! It’s trees and the ground and rocks and the moon in the sky- everything! If God and the Devil played football, Manon would be the stadium that they played in; he’s the sun shining down on them.”

Sarah thinks she understands; “Oh, Nature!”

Nancy continues. “Have you ever heard of Invoking the Spirit? Manon goes into you- he takes everything that’s wrong and makes it all better!”

That’s enough for Sarah: “You guys are freaking me out!” and off she goes running home.

The Three observe: “She’s scared; she’ll be back.”

Most likely, something is starting to strike the viewer as amiss in this representation of Wicca. There are no Pantheons in The Craft, one notes, no recognizable Deities. There is (to judge so far) apparently only one Divinity in Wicca, and that is a bizarre Deity that no one has ever heard of before: Manon. (If, in the fifteen years since The Craft came out, any enterprising Neo-Pagan or Wiccan researcher has uncovered a Pagan Deity of any stripe named “Manon,” I’ve yet to know of it.)

What I think happened- I don’t believe that the producers could find a Pagan/Wiccan Deity who would suit the story-line that they had in mind; Diana, Herne, Freyya, Zeus- none of them are the kind of cosmic being that The Craft envisioned, with the further disadvantage that they all have mythologies that are too well-known and ”fixed” to be adaptable to the Awesome One who would be the stadium in which God and the Devil played football. Shiva maybe comes closest, but I suppose they did not wish to go with a Hindu Deity, for possible fear of provoking controversy with Hindus, perhaps.

So I think that they more or less made up a Deity, and that is what we have in Manon. The problem is that Manon gives an incorrect idea of Wicca, implying that it is a Manon-centric religion, with much time and attention given to achieving Oneness with Manon- when in fact, as far as anyone can tell, Manon isn’t even a real Deity.

There is (however, as we shall learn) a Force involved in Wicca (Nature) and another Divine Essence called The Mother.

In their eccentric cosmology, however, The Craft girls are determined to realize Manon, and so they take a “field trip,” a bus excursion out to the countryside. Here- for the first time in a movie- we see Wiccan ritual put on film.

They challenge one another with the ceremonial dagger: “It is better to rush upon the Blade of this Knife than to proceed with Faint Heart. How do you enter the Circle?”

“With Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.” (This is actually going to be a little ironic later.) Nancy holds the blade up to the sky: “As above-” She stabs it into the ground: “So below.” Sitting around an Altar decorated with a Pentagram and perfumed with incense, they each prick their finger and join their blood in a chalice. “I drink of my sisters.”

They then each- in the Sacredness of their Circle- express a desire (who wants to bet that each of their wishes- their spells- comes absolutely true; but to a degree such as might teach the lesson: Be careful about that for which you wish). Nancy, a girl of dramatic gesture and big dreaming, wastes no time on the penny-ante stuff: “I take in to myself all the Power of Manon!” All the Power of Divinity- into one little, mortal girl. Be careful about that for which you wish.

The young ladies look up; butterflies are swirling all about them. “It’s Manon! He’s listening!”

When I put up my earlier post about Wicca in The Doors, I commented upon how odd I found all the letting and drinking of blood in the film. I had a similar reaction the first time (years ago) that I watched The Craft, and I kind of had the same feeling watching it again recently; I’ve just never encountered blood-letting in a ritual context before, so it seems kind of extreme to me. A friend (who has a lot of “Trad” experience) got in touch with me, though, and explained that, in a lot of Closed Circles, such blood-workings are actually fairly common.

Of course it’s quite one thing for adults to be making decisions about such things, in a Closed Environment, with (ideally) responsible and knowledgeable High Priestesses and Priests.

I’m just not wild about a movie that seems to encourage teen-aged Witches to be cutting themselves and drinking each other’s blood: hepatitis C, anyone? What adults do is one thing (especially adults presumably balanced and sane enough to be accepted into Closed Traditions); one hates to imagine some young person falling into regret somehow, because “they did it in The Craft.”

Initially it seems as if the desires of the Teen Witches are all coming true; “the spell is working!” They begin to practice levitation together, and the Conferring of Glamour. This (as they read from a book) is the Art of creating an “illusion so real as to fool or deceive any observer- one of the oldest forms of Magick.” They start to investigate the philosophy of the Three-Fold Law: “By all the Power of Three times Three- as we Will, so shall it Be!” And they prepare for the ceremony which they have anticipated since the movie’s start: Now that the Witches have found their “Fourth,” they can Call in the Guardians of the Watch-Towers.

Accordingly- back to the occult shop for more supplies. Sarah (who has begun to find Skeet Ulrich’s charmed romantic attentions a tad obsessive) asks Lirio “how do I undo a love spell?”

Ah- but it not that easy, my dear. Young people sometimes think of Magick as a light that can switched on and off at their Magickal will, and Magick does not really work like that, as Lirio attempts to explain. “If you open a flood-gate, how do you undo it? You unleash something with a spell- you must let it run its course.”

She continues: “True Magick is neither Black nor White, but both, as Nature is both- both loving and cruel. The only ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is in the heart of the Witch. Life gives a balance of its own. But whatever you send out- it comes back Three Times. This is a basic spiritual truth that is said in many ways.”

Nancy is investigating a book, encountering a vision of the book’s illustration, a stormy beach, come to life. She carries the book to counter and Lirio notes the title: Invocation of Spirit.

“Are you going to Invoke the Spirit,” she asks in wonder. “You must be very experienced to do this, as it is very dangerous!”

But of course, no one says “no” to Nancy. “I’m a big girl, lady; ring up the sale.”

One encounters in Lirio’s talk a form of Wicca more familiar to us, with its emphasis on the Balance of Nature and the karmic consequences of Magickal Intent. This makes much more sense to us than “Manon” does; one intuits here the Wiccan consultant behind the scenes, trying to salvage the “Wicca-ness” of the film.

The kind of odd thing is Lirio’s warning Nancy away from “Invoking the Spirit,” that is, Manon; “It is very dangerous!” Isn’t “Invoking the Spirit” what we generally do in ritual, when we invite Deities to join us, and we Call in the Quarters? (“Spirits of the East- be here now!”) This is another instance where The Craft’s desire to have Drama, and the Crossing of a Boundary that ought Never be Crossed, leads to a more “woo-woo” picture of Wicca than is strictly necessary- Only the very experienced should attempt to Invoke the Spirit (of Manon); it is very dangerous!

Aren’t we all about the Invocation of Spirits (and Deities)? Because how do you talk to Spirits and Deities, if you don’t invoke them?   

Of course, if you are paying attention- what Nancy is talking about isn’t really “invocation”; it is actually “possession”- “Manon goes inside you!” I kind of have to agree with Lirio here- possession, inviting Cosmic Beings to come live inside of you, is something that you might want to be really cautious about.

Be careful what you wish for Magickally.

Now comes the moment which will prove pivotal; the ceremony that the girls have been planning since the movie’s start. Now that they have their Fourth, they are going to Call in the Guardians of the Watch-Towers, in order to Cast the Circle.

The set-up is cool. They are on a beach, passing through a mini-cave or cavern; each has brought a small animal (a snake; a bird; a butterfly; a goldfish) to symbolize their Element. They form a Circle with candles, a small fire crackling in the middle. Then: they Call In the Guardians.

“Hail! Guardians of the Watch-Towers of the East: Powers of Air and Invention! Hear us!” And so on through South (Fire and Feeling); and West (Water and Intuition). However- Sarah’s invocation of North varies the formula: “Hail! Guardians of the Watch-Towers of the North: Powers of The Mother and the Earth! Hear us!”

All: “Aid us in our Magickal Working this May Eve! Ruler of Old- show us your Glory! Show us your Power! We invoke thee! Ancient Wise One! Show us thy Ways!”

Sure enough, don’t you know- the camera-shots start getting all low and squirrelly, and the wind-machines start kicking up, and special-effects lightning starts splitting the sky, and we get this barrage of multi-angle takes. Ah, it’s working! The Power is Rising- Manon is Present!

Well, anyway- it’s supposed to be like that, at least on the metaphysical level, isn’t it- the cosmos cracking open and reforming- this is, at least in metaphor, what we imagine happens when we Cast the Circle and Call in the Guardians- isn’t it? 

Then- at the very height of it all- Eldritch Lightning plunges from the Heavens, striking Nancy and filling her with its Might- Manon.

The next morning, Nancy can walk on water: “He’s blessed me! I can FEEL him still IN me! I feel him in my VEINS!” Sharks have mysteriously washed ashore along the beach over the night; Nancy is deeply moved by this display of Manon’s affections: “My gifts! I FEEL You IN me! I’m Your Daughter now! He’s everywhere- he’s in everything!” You might notice that what she seems to be describing here is a sort of metaphysical de-flowering.

This begins the portion of the movie known as “Psycho Nancy”- and also pretty much ends whatever connection it had to Real Wicca, spending the rest of its running time in the surreal environment of The Craft-Land.

While Nancy displays the God-like Powers of Manon, Sarah grows trepidatious and repairs to Lirio, for occult counsel. “There is tremendous power inside you; more than in any other Witch I have ever seen,” she is told. “Listen to the voice of your mother in you; she was a Witch, of course. You must surrender yourself to the Higher Power; you must Invoke the Spirit! There is no other way!”

One of Sarah’s “issues” has been the death of her mother, whose picture she keeps with her. In another example of The Craft’s odd, foretelling capacity- the Harry Potter books will not become really popular until like 2000. Yet here- four years earlier- we find one of its most potent themes- the deceased (magick-working) parent, able at an important crisis, to pierce the Veil, in order to assist their Magickal child.

Berserk as only a mortal filled with the Power of Manon can be, Nancy directs Bonnie and Rochelle in a Witch-War against that uppity-snit Sarah. This leads to the Ultimate Show-Down, as the Three assault Sarah with Dark Glamour after Dark Glamour- there are snakes on the ground! There are maggots in the toilet!

The picture of Sarah’s mother stirs to magickal life; “Look inside yourself,” she whispers to Sarah from beyond the Realms.

Sarah lies down on the floor; she closes her eyes and steadies her breath. She concentrates upon the heart of magickal fire within her: “Guardians of the Watch-Towers of the North: Powers of The Mother and Earth- I invoke thee! Three times Three: make them see!”

Bonnie and Rochelle have a vision of themselves, with their wickedness brought back upon them: “It’s coming back three times!” They flee.

Nancy arrives in a serious pique: “Why aren’t you DEAD yet!?” Ah, but Sarah’s is to be the last word. “Manon came to me; He gave me a message. He said you abused what He gave you; Now you have to pay a price.”

The last we see of Nancy, she is strapped down in a psych-ward, lost in a delusion of flight: “I’m flying! I’m flying!” Bonnie and Rochelle have lost their powers- while the Good Witch- the Ethically Motivated Witch- is the only one still standing Magickally at the end. “Relax- it’s only Magick.”

Stuff that is odd about The Craft: putting forth “Manon” as a Supreme Divinity in Wicca is odd, because no Wiccans or Neo-Pagans appear to acknowledge Manon. The film’s presentation of Calling in the Quarters- implying that it is some super, highly advanced ceremony, possibly fraught with peril- is a little strange, as (of course) Calling the Quarters In tends to be a well-known part of regular Wiccan ritual; likewise is the film’s portrayal of the Invocation of Spirit (“it is very dangerous; only the most experienced must attempt this!”) Doesn’t this tend as well to be a really regular feature of Wiccan ceremony? “Spirits- I invoke thee!”

What the film portrays well: it does make a connection with “The Mother and the Earth” at an important juncture. It presents Wicca as an Empowerment for Youth, as well as a means of correcting circumstances in life which are growing intolerable. It introduces the concepts of: the Four Elements, and the Sacredness of their Union; the Law of Three-Fold Return, and the idea of Wiccans governing themselves by an ethical code of conduct; and the basics of the Circle-Casting ceremony.

What the film introduces that is new: Witches- bad Witches, wicked Witches, malicious, evil, treacherous Witches- have populated human-story since story-telling began, and movies since the advent of talking pictures in the early 1900s.

What we first saw in The Doors, and next see here, is: a Good Witch (a Wiccan), who is able to live outside of fantasy. Through her Wicca, she is able to function as a Good Witch within the Real World.

This has never been seen before.

Teen-agers are probably the most likely to really appreciate The Craft, but that’s OK because (1) teen Wiccans need movies too, and (2) it gives them a forum and a platform around which to discuss Wicca and such earnest matters as Three-Fold Return.

Among the lessons of the movie, legitimate to adults as well as teen-agers: don’t allow yourself to become too brash with the Powers, too bold with the Magick (The Craft is actually a little like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, in that they both show how a Novice can end up in over their head, Magick-wise, if they are not careful about how they practice). A little humility with the Ancient Arts is admirable.

Most importantly- do not use the Powers vindictively or spitefully. If they are Powers from the Gods, then surely such contemptuous use must be a show of disrespect to the Gods.

The Lesson of The Craft: Don’t abuse the Power of Manon.

  6 Responses to “Wicca in Movies: The Craft”

  1. Supposedly, and mind you this more urban legend than anything else, either Balk (who was supposed to be a practcing Witch herself ) or the consulting preistess asked the film’s makers to use a made up deity (Mannon) so as not offend real Wiccans who may have worshiped one of the real dieties. I’ve also heard it was changed to protect craft “secrets”, but this seems less likely to me as many bookstores already had a healhty section of the 101 books out.

  2. I found The Craft entertaining and fun. The only trouble is that in my job I work with LOTS of teenagers, and there are always a few obligatory gothic schoolgirl shock Pagans who appear to have learned everything they know from The Craft. These types rarely have more than a grain of understanding of Wiccan theology, ritual, or magickal theory. Sometimes I feel The Craft presented just enough true information to be dangerous.

  3. Great article, as usual, zan. Pat Devin was the Pagan consultant on the film: she relates her thoughts on the film in an interview here. The name was one of two (the other was “Noah”) in the first script that Devin saw and the writer copped the name from the 1986 french film “Manon of the Spring” (an overwrought melodrama with no Pagan connection whatsoever). Devin pushed for “Manon” after veryifying that the name was not listed as a God in any reference she could get her hands on so that no deities would be disturbed by neophytes after the film was released. She and the actresses both pushed for addressing the deity as “She” but the director wanted a pre-Christian monotheism, and so a pre-Christian montheism is what’s in the film. Devin suggests that the thealogy of the film is more Gnostic than Neo-Pagan.

  4. There was a consultant affiliated with Covenant of the Goddess hired for this film; I recall reading some interviews with her in the late 90s. Balk also owns or owned an occult shop in LA. It might be worth tracking down the original consultant to see what she has to say today.

    I remember walking away from this with very mixed feelings. It definitely resembled Wicca, but I felt it offered a lot of misleads – but it was still far preferable to a comparable film that came out called Little Witches, which was the same basic plot, with the refrain “Knowledge is power!” (And power, therefore knowledge, is bad according to the message of that movie.)

  5. [...] is not a real God; he is The Craft’s made-up deity, with a nonsense name that harkens to Wiccan tradition. Much of The Craft’s spiritual content resembles real religion — by way of incantations, [...]

  6. […] is not a real God; he is The Craft’s made-up deity, with a nonsense name that harkens to Wiccan tradition. Much of The Craft’s spiritual content resembles real religion — by way of incantations, and […]

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